Inside the Uninsured Numbers


What do we know about the health care uninsureds in our country? That there are somewhere around 46 million people in this category, the national total is slightly over 16% and Indiana’s percentage is nearly the same.

Gallup, the polling people, have some more numbers. Their recent surveys tell us there are more uninsured in Texas, New Mexico and Mississippi (between 24% and 27% in each state) and the lowest totals are in Massachusetts (5.5% with its "universal" coverage), and Vermont, Minnesota and Hawaii (all in the 8.5% range). The Gallup results also show regional trends — lower numbers of uninsured in the Northeast and higher figures in the South and West. They link varying amounts of Hispanic populations as one of the reasons for the difference.

But there are more numbers that should not be forgotten: 45% of the uninsured are in that status for less than four months and only 16% are uninsured for more than 18 months. According to the Heritage Foundation, 20 million are in households with incomes more than twice the poverty level, approximately nine million are on Medicaid and nearly as many are illegal immigrants. The problem, experts say, is the lack of portability in insurance (those who change jobs often go in and out of the uninsured count). Policy changes regarding tax treatment and portability would be a huge first step in the right direction.

The point: Yes, the many Americans without insurance is a problem and part of the health care reform debate, but take a closer look at the numbers before forming your opinion on what needs to take place. 

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